Archer inquiry recommends compensation, but refuses to identify clinical negligence
The inquiry into the transfusions of contaminated blood to haemophiliac patients led by Lord Archer of Sandwell, published yesterday, has stated that the Government should provide significant compensation to those affected by such transfusions, but that it was not the job of the inquiry to identify or punish clinical negligence.
Discussing the destruction of relevant records, however, Lord Archer concluded that it was not surprising that several of the people who gave evidence to the inquiry considered that this might have been an exercise in suppressing evidence of misconduct or medical negligence. He added that, whilst no direct evidence of this was found, "had an official Public Inquiry been established while recollections were fresh, the suspicions might have been addressed."
Agreeing with Lord Winston that this was "the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS", the inquiry's recommendations include direct financial relief paid in the same manner as statutory benefits, to sufferers and to carers prevented from working as a result of contaminated transfusions. Although no figure for compensation was quoted, it was suggested that payments should match the compensation offered by the scheme set up by the Irish government.
Over 4,000 people were infected as a result of hospital exposure to contaminated blood, of whom almost 2,000 have since died, with many more suffering from a terminal illness.